Raj Chetty’s work, carried by The New York Times and now The Office of the Census, has made Americans more aware of the proportion who stay stuck at the bottom of the income scale.
From the work of many but especially Charles Murray we know that the bottom 10% is largely composed of those of low IQ… those with an IQ lower than 80. They are not too bright. And in today’s more and more complex world they are at greater and greater disadvantage through no fault of their own.
The Army refuses to take anyone with an IQ in that category, so that route, effective for many as a first step up and out, is closed off to them.
Many groups help the “mobile” sector of the poor. But the low IQ group is stuck and with little help and increasing isolation, abuse and crime. This was well depicted in the TV series “Wired”.
The need for community: A place to belong to with close others all around.
In a different era, in different political regimes such as the Middle Ages in Europe, but also in Asia, smaller communities were much more aware of these slower folks. The good lord of the manor took it as his duty to provide for these — often by support of monasteries, but also by the provision of basic simple (though back-breaking) work.
Family and extended family has always been the primary source of support and is so today. But for the poor, family is now fragmented, sometime multiple times (multiple fathers for one set of children by the same mother). The welfare state aids and abets this arrangement, essentially fostering fragmentation rather than unity and community. Without marriage, community is virtually impossible and functional community is non-existent.
Those who are less gifted need, more than anyone else, family and community to whom to belong. But for this they also need leadership capable of building community — of fostering belonging.
Our political order makes such virtually impossible. Out wealthy and gifted live far away from the poor and the slow of intellect. They feel no obligation and have absolutely no ties of relationship with or responsibility for them.
They need help and leadership.
Leadership implies hierarchy. An acceptable hierarchy is possible only under accepted norms of “the good”, i.e. shared moral norms. As the good community can only exist upon good family life, a trusted hierarchy for community leadership necessitates a sound set of values, norms or principles around family issues, i.e. sexual issues.
Where can the poor find leadership anchored in a sound set of sexual issues today? In the same place they have always been found: in their places of worship. The worship of God always leads to sexual order —marriage, chaste living, fertility and putting family obligations first: to spouse and to children. Well it always used to. Today a number of religious groups deny the need for chastity before marriage.
The welfare state does not promote nor address these issues. Our wealthy leaders (Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg), if they believe in these values (and the personal lives of some seem to indicate they at least believe in marriage if not in chastity), are afraid to talk this way in public.
So, our low-I.Q neediest— those who most need leadership and a guiding culture—- have neither.
But one source still seems probable and, in many areas, provides some of the leadership: the churches. But, sadly, so many inner-city churches do not lead nor preach marriage for the poor and therefore not capable of developing community for the poor. While chastity for the poor is unheard of.
The poor, like everyone else, no matter their income, education or IQ, need marriage and chastity and bear the same consequences as everyone else. One could say they need it even more. The joy of a life with a good wife or husband is within reach of every class, rich or poor. And for the poor man or woman, the greatest joy is their simplest and frequently their only one: helping each other by going through life together even when it is so tough. Such a poor man with such a wife is really a very rich man.
May we find it within all the human resources of the richest nation on earth and in history, the people who can lead the way forward for our slower brothers and sisters.
Neither the welfare state nor the elite (including the media which is under the control of the elite) teaches or leads this way. Good relationships need community and prayer and worship (see Mapping America) much more then they need material goods.
This richness will be brought to the poor by those who love God and love His poor. And where it is happening it is almost exclusively through them.
We need a religiously base Peace Corps for our inner city poorest — and least bright…those with an IQ below 80: a good 10% of our population. We had our past versions of this: religious orders of priests, nuns and brothers and the Salvation Army. The middle ages had monasteries. The 21st century needs its own new form of this perennial solution, its own from of dedicated, organized, effective love.
It will come. Keep an eye out.